Everton: The most confusingly chaotic club in the land

Date published: Monday 13th December 2021 7:38 - Editor F365

Marcel Brands with Bill Kenwright

Everton are a fascinating club of half-baked ideas, half-arsed protests and absolutely no coherent direction whatsoever.


Anyone who has been following Everton these past few years will tell you that they have a problem with numbers. That this is a club where expenditure is seemingly guided by some unfathomable Duckworth-Lewis economics, where boom or bust is only ever just around the corner, and where Alex Iwobi costs £28 million. But just recently, this has started to spread from the boardroom to the terraces, with a section of disgruntled supporters launching the #27minutesfor27years campaign in protest at the time elapsed since they last won a trophy.

I know. How can it be that 27 precious years have passed since Paul Rideout’s header meant Manchester United’s double-chasing season ended with zilch? Well, it can’t. Because it hasn’t been 27 years; it’s been 26.

This season is, in fairness, the 27th. There is a chance that supporters are merely adhering to the inexplicable tradition of counting goals scored by the minute they are approaching, not the minute that has actually happened. But there are problems with this. For one, we are not born at the age of one. And more to the point, on Monday night, nobody left their seats until the clock struck 27. Until the advent of the 28th minute, in other words.

One of them – either the minute or the year – simply has to be incorrect.

You may feel like this is pedantry. You would be absolutely right. Yet somewhere underneath it all is something more substantial. The confusion, the dyscalculia, the fact that the campaign to get value for the “financial and emotional commitment” of fans sees those same fans leave an extortionately-priced Premier League game after one-third of it: all of it is a near-perfect reflection of the issues at the club. As far as protests go, it’s a belter.

Because the thing is, it’s not the trophylessness that is being protested at all. That is a mere symptom, not the cause itself. And while it would be somewhat correct to dismiss these protests as classic delusional Big Club entitlement, to do so is also to devalue the supporters’ real issues. At the very least, it ignores the nuances.

Namely, that the main problem, confusingly contrary to the name of the movement, is confusion itself. A brief look over the campaign’s manifesto, where complaints range from “baffling recruitment decisions” to “the peculiar communication strategies [of] Farhad Moshiri” tells you as much. And its three stated aims? For Moshiri to communicate through official channels, engage with fans, and make management decisions they can actually understand.

It is transparency they want. For their perplexing club to make some sense to them.

At the moment, nobody has a clue. All anyone really knows is that with the kind of money spent – itself, and in keeping with all of this, a figure referred to vaguely as ‘somewhere north of £500million’ – things should be going better than they are.

The noises coming out of the club – quite literally – have pinned the blame squarely on the shoulders of departing Director of Football, Marcel Brands. But to view this as anything more than a sacrificial PR exercise, the equivalent of sending a tearful press secretary out to take the flak, would be wrong. The problems run far deeper than one individual.

However, his newly-vacant position is a decent place to start. The remit of a Director of Football is notoriously hard to define, and nobody has more trouble with this than Everton, who apparently only had one so that they could say they did. Because everyone else had one. This is certainly how it seems anyway, from the way in which both Brand and his predecessor, Steve Walsh, were used.

Ideally, the Director of Football should oversee, well, the football – a key element of which is presumably the manager. Yet of the three to have donned the crested puffa-jacket during his tenure, Brands had precisely nothing to do with any of their appointments, and his cryptic remarks last week that the issues at the club were not “only the players” seemed to imply what he thought of Moshiri’s choices. And they also speak volumes on the limit of his own influence.

At the very least, you expect this to be his area. Even at the most confusing of football clubs, it is surely the Director of Football’s job to recruit players. Yet this has apparently not been the case for either incumbent. In the past couple of windows, Brands has seen Salomon Rondon, James Rodriguez and Josh King come in – apparently, although who knows? – against his will. The fact that two of them, like so many before – Davy Klaassen, anyone? – have lasted only as long as the manager in the dug-out when they signed, is clear evidence of a complete lack of coherent direction.

In fact, this is the only thing that is clear: a club with a transfer policy that can see £47million spent on the twin talents of Morgan Schneiderlin and Yannick Bolasie, and £40million splashed out on the Walcott-Tosun duumvirate, all in the space of two seasons, is a club that has no policy at all. A hot mess of a football club, where decisions are made by tarot card and alphabetti-spaghetti.

To compound things for Everton fans, the news this week – as reported in the Athletic – that Brands is considering signing a non-disclosure agreement means that the truth of all this is likely to remain a mystery. That said, if Walsh’s spurious post-sack claim that the board vetoed him on the £4million purchase of Erling Haaland is anything to go by, the loss here might not be that great.

Either way, Moshiri looks determined to keep his soiled underpants under lock and key, and as a result, the 27-club may be left with little option but to double down on things. And while the minute/year confusion is good, there surely is room for improvement. Some sort of raffle to pick the minute of the walk-out, maybe? Make a thing of it – might be nice. Could dig out that psychic octopus, or any octopus really, if we’re being honest.

I don’t know, but while kudos should be given for the current arrangement, it really doesn’t come close to the random weirdness going on behind the scenes.

Ed Capstick – follow him on Twitter

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